The NZ Transport Agency will reopen State Highway 1 through Kaikōura from Friday, 2 March, following extensive landslip removal following ex-cyclone Gita.
“However, given the extensive area needing repair south of Kaikōura, there will be long stretches of highway as a single lane and people need to expect significant, extra delays there,” says Tim Crow, Transport Agency Earthquake Recovery Manager. “People may wish to take the Lewis Pass Alternate Route between Picton and Christchurch if they want to avoid these delays.”
Given the reducing light heading into autumn, the new opening hours for SH1 north and south of Kaikōura will also be reduced slightly to 7.30am - 7.30pm. (Previously the hours were 7.00 am to 8.30 pm.)
“Good progress has been made by the crews since last week clearing the debris flow materials at the major landslide sites,” says Mr Crow. “Clearance of this cyclone-generated slip material has occurred faster than the earthquake slips, as slope protection (rock anchors, mesh, netting and fences/bunds) was not required to be installed before the debris material could be safely cleared.
“When the road opens on Friday it will be single lane in many more sections than prior to Gita. People should expect lengthy delays and think about whether they want to wait along the way or take the Lewis Pass route between Picton and Christchurch.”
The time to travel SH1 through Kaikoura, Christchurch to Picton, could exceed five-and-a-half hours, compared to under five hours before Gita.
The overnight closure points will not change on the north side of the town – it will remain closed between Clarence and Mangamaunu.
On the south side, the closure will move to the SH1/Leader Road intersection through to Peketa. People living within this area will be allowed access from the south side but there will be no through traffic to Kaikōura outside the open hours. This closure point will be reviewed once work has been completed on areas of highway which have given way on the Hundalees, north of the Leader Road.
Given that crews are also working hard to repair KiwiRail’s Main North Line, drivers should expect trains at any time from any direction along the rail corridor adjacent to SH1. They should cross only at the level crossings and watch out for rail vehicles that will be working across the line as part of the recovery.